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If you read those polls carefully….

by | Oct 1, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama and Pro-life Mitt Romney

Tucked away in the current conventional wisdom about the status of the presidential contest between pro-life Mitt Romney and pro-abortion Barack Obama is an important truth and a very questionable conclusion. The truth is the race remains very, very, very tight. The highly questionable conclusion is that somehow President Obama now has a sizable lead in so-called “swing” or “battleground” states.

The poll conducted for the Washington Post/ABC News by Langer Research Associates has Obama up two—49% to 47%–among those most likely to vote. Those”standings are essentially unchanged from their immediate post-convention levels,” Langer reports.

Gallup has Obama up 49% to 45% among registered voters (this is a seven day rolling average), while Rasmussen has Obama up 50% to 47% (including “leaners”). What else in this area illuminates what’s going on?

#1. Gallup played up Obama reaching 50% approval ratings last week. He is now back where he usually is—47%. Rasmussen has Obama at 49%.

#2. Intensity of support. Rasmussen’s “Presidential Approval Index” —the percentage of the nation’s voters who strongly approve of the way he is performing as President (28%) minus the number who strongly disapprove (41%)–is minus 13 for Obama.

But the ongoing neck-and-neck narrative has been swamped by the poll’s far more dramatic conclusion: Romney is getting crushed (by 11 points) in swing-states. So, if Romney is just behind, the implication to draw must be that Romney must be walloping Obama in non-swing states. However as Ed Morrissey puts it today:

“Can Mitt Romney have such a huge lead in non-swing states that he can be within two points of Barack Obama nationally — but be behind in swing states by eleven?”

Morrissey picks up on the same thing that jumped out at me when I read the Washington Post’s story about the poll’s result. Jon Cohen and Dan Balz write

“A slim majority of voters now see Romney’s wealth as a positive, signifying his achieving the ‘American Dream.’ Fewer are focusing on issues of economic inequality and the gap between rich and poor. And there has been a big jump in the number of voters who say he has paid his fair share in taxes.”

So, if there’s been any attitudinal change it would seem to be in Romney’s favor. (It’s also an issue the Post has tried assiduously to clobber Romney with.) And then this very astute observation from Morrissey

“The big gap on swing states makes less sense, though.  The biggest non-swing states should favor Obama — California, New York, and Illinois, with Texas being the only large non-swing state that is firmly in the Republican column.  Romney will win the South easily, but Obama gets the whole West Coast and most of New England, too.  Without a chance to see the samples in each state and the demographic breakout, I’m a little skeptical that Romney could be losing by eleven in the swing states but only by two nationwide.”

What does Rasmussen say? Two things. He included “leaners” in his results and found the President up four among all voters in the eleven swing states. But, of course, the figures that count are those from the individual states. According to Rasmussen

“In Virginia and Ohio, Obama leads by a point. In Nevada and Florida, the president is up two. He now leads by three in Wisconsin and has jumped to double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Romney has edged back into the lead in Missouri and is up six in North Carolina. He leads by two in Colorado and three in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

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Categories: Polling